First costume day of the summer holidays

Yesterday was an enjoyable costume day, relatively busy with steady numbers, and not too crazy. It was great to gave some new volunteers giving a hand and to be able to show them what we do. It's certainly true – the more the merrier – it's nice to be have time for a cuppa and keep up with demand from visitors. Hopefully we haven't scared them off!

Again, we had some lovely comments from visitors:

'Amazing. A real laugh and made me stand up taller…'

'Wonderful – great work to create the collection. Great fun had by all, many thanks!'

'I liked feeling like I'm really important.'

'…Thank you for volunteering your time for families to have a lovely experience making memories.'

We also used the occasion to showcase some of the work we've been doing in recent weeks, including the wall hanging inspired by the knot garden and Tudor-dressed rag dolls made from scraps, or cabbage, left over from making our full-sized outfits.

The doll in the blue and red uses up scraps from a similar outfit made for school groups, which is loosely based on a portrait of Mary FitzAlan, step-daughter of Mary Arundell of Lanherne.


The pattern for this doll comes from The Tudor Child, and the clothes are enlarged versions of patterns in the book. Each layer of clothing can be removed. The outfit is made up of a smock, petticoat, kirtle, gown, fore-sleeves, partlet, French hood and girdle.


The other two dolls were more informally made, more guess work than with a pattern. Each has various layers, which are also removable. The Elizabethan gent wears doublet and trunkhose, with a jerkin, ruff, cloak, shoes and a tall hat. Underneath he has hose and a shirt.

The Elizabethan lady wears a smock, stays, bum roll and farthingale, with a kirtle and partlet with a ruff over the top. On top of this is a gown with hanging sleeves. She has black velvet cap decorated with gold and pearl beads, and also has black velvet shoes over stockings tied up with ribbon garters. (She's gained facial features since this photo was taken)

A couple of fashionable ladies or so

Among the things being worked on at the moment are two outfits for noble ladies.

One is a mid Tudor noble lady, loosely based on a portrait of Mary FitzAlan, countess of Arundel, mixed with the Tudor Child‘s pattern for Princess Elizabeth’s gown.

Each layer has been made by a different person in the Costume Group. The outfit is made up of a padded petticoat, a kirtle and fore-sleeves, and a gown.

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The padded petticoat

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The kirtle

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After doing about 40 eyelet holes, on various outfits I didn’t fancy doing more, especially in velvet, so resorted to brass rings, which should be easier for children to thread up. There will be a placard over the top of the lacing.

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To finish it off we decided to add a partlet as well. Just waiting for the fore sleeves before getting a final photo.

The other is a late Tudor noble lady’s gown with hanging sleeve, complete with French farthingale and stays underneath. The next step is to make a suitable ruff and supporter.

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The foundation garments.

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With the petticoat over the top.

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The gown on top.

Also just completed, a mid-late gentlewoman’s gown and kirtle in red and black.

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Getting there, slowly

The Summer Costume Days are over now – it’s taken a little while to recover! The last was particularly busy, with about 40 visitors dressed in the morning and twice as many in the afternoon – not bad for four hours. We had some lovely comments too from visitors which is greatly appreciated.

After a day of repairs, including the complete rebuilding of two French hoods, we’ve managed to cut out another pattern for the schools’ project. This one’s for a mid Tudor noble lady, based on the Princess Elizabeth pattern in The Tudor Child. It’s also loosely based on a portrait of Mary FitzAlan, Duchess of Norfolk in blue and red, who had a very distant connection to Trerice through her stepmother Mary Arundell of Lanherne, a cousin to our Arundells (the FitzAlan earl of Arundel’s coat of arms is also in the plasterwork of the Great Chamber at Trerice – we’ve always assumed it was something to do with this marriage connection … but not completely sure). So far it includes a padded petticoat, a red kirtle with red and gold forepart and a blue velvet gown (a really nice shade, similar to the portrait) with large sleeves and fore-sleeves to match the kirtle.

Gowns, Coats and Headwear

It’s been a while since the last post, but we’ve been quite busy. We had another successful costume day at the beginning of the month and we’ve been continuing with the schools’ project.

We’ve made quite a dent in the patterns created during our marathon cutting out session – might have to get round to cutting out the last ones soon! We’ve got a mixture of recreated children’s clothes and scaled down adult style ones so that groups can see what different ranks and professions wore: they are based on pictures in the Herbert Norris book, Tudor Costume and Fashion, as well as patterns from the ever useful The Tudor Tailor, The Tudor Child, The Queen’s Servants, and The King’s Servants.

New additions to the schools’ project include:
An early Tudor farmer, with doublet and coat – reminiscent of those worn on the Tudor Monastery Farm TV programme. This will be worn, eventually, with the brown small bonnet made earlier.

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A villager – the kirtle was one from our old collection that never really gets worn, but just discovered it’s about 5-6 inches too short – it looks a bit silly with the jacket – so it will need to have a bit added on to the bottom.

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Some early Tudor bonnets for girls including a pointed one, possibly to go with the early Tudor gentlewoman’s dress.

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The round bonnet can be worn as it is or looks quite effective with a paste to make a gable shaped hood.

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This one is to go with the early Tudor noblewoman’s outfit, which is almost finished, and just needs some side lacing in the kirtle.

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A schoolboy’s coat is done, and is awaiting it’s yellow petticoat to go underneath. Also under way are a miner’s coat, a merchant’s gown, a merchant wife’s dress as well as the early gentlewoman’s dress.

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So the work continues and we have another costume day this coming Monday!

Done it again!

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This week there’s a body in the Court Chamber! It’s for the Victorian murder mystery evening on Friday. You’ll have to come along after 6pm to find out whodunit.

In our more usual role, we’ve started making shirts and smocks for the schools’ costumes for last year’s raffle project. Most of the linen has come from the curtains that used to hang in the Great Chamber – we’ve cut around the various holes and worn areas to get quite a few items. I hadn’t realised that the curtains were at least 23 years old.

The Feilding-style dress is finished, along with its bodies and petticoat, and the Breugel outfit, with kirtle, gown and apron.

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Progress on Summer outfits

Before sewing begins on the schools’ project, the last few things are being finished for the summer.

20140224-210359.jpg The Breugel style out fit is taking shape, with hemming and fastenings still to do. There is likely to be a tuck in the skirt, to show how growing children were accommodated in the 16th century.

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The Mary Feilding style dress is in the process of being trimmed; not happy with the flowery lace braid, looking a little too modern, some strings of pearl-esque beads are being added which alters it quite a bit. The petticoat is almost finished too.

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The academic gown is finished, and looks really good with the square cap.
Repairs are being made to another farthingale as well, because the willow keeps snapping. While this is going on patterns are being drawn up for the schools’ project, so we’re keeping busy, and there should be some interesting new things for visitors to try on in the summer.

The elves have been active…

After several weeks of industry we’ve got some more garments finished; two child-sized cloaks, one with a hood, and the late Elizabethan dress is done and just needs accessorising with a ruff and headwear, and maybe some jewellery.

Our husband and wife team have produced an outfit for him – so we have a Tudor tailor! – next up is one for her.

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Our resident embroidress has been busy too, one cuff of a glove is well underway. Still to go is the edging, the lace and the lining before attaching it to the hand part of the glove (and the other hand!)

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The kirtle of the Breugel gown is in progress and is going to be in green wool with the outer layer in brown wool lined in creamy beige.

Our newest costume maker has finished her outfit, and has already worn it helping Tudor Father Christmas this month.

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Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Next…

It’s been a while since the last post – quite a lot’s been happening.

The DIY dress up clothes in the Hayloft seem to have gone down well, although whenever I go up there it looks like a tornado’s gone through and totally disorganised.

Before the main season ended at Trerice, we helped with the spooky Trerice by Night for Halloween. Some of the dummies were dressed up in costume and put in dark corners, one was made up as a man in a large black hat echoing a poem written by one of the volunteers which was given to visitors about ghosts around the house. We also made some people for the stocks, one of which was headless with a pool of blood made from red velvet! There was also a Miss Haversham style wedding cake complete with rat and spiders for the Hall table – one volunteer dressed up as Miss Haversham and sat really still for most of the night, only occasionally moving and scaring visitors silly.

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This year’s property raffle raised money for costumes for school visits as well as general visits. It was originally thought to do a set of Tudor clothes similar to what’s already been done but based on different roles and professions that might have been connected to an Elizabethan manor. However, the government have kindly changed the history curriculum for 2014 for primary age kids, so the Tudors possibly/probably no longer feature. We’ll have to somehow check what will happen and maybe alter our plans a bit.

In the meantime we’ve started on extra clothes for next spring/summer including an adult cloak in a rusty red, a small boy’s doublet in left over rusty red with yellow slashes and decoration, the old cream and pink gown is in the process of being remodelled because the cream was damaged with age- it is transforming into a goldish colour gown with cream kirtle underneath. There was a rather misshapen wired farthingale used under the old dress, that through some genius thought of one costume member, has been re-stiffened and now looks pretty good and will stand up so much better to mass usage than willow or normal wire – we used curtain wire! We’re taking a step into the 1590s after several requests from younger girls to wear our 10 year olds dress, which is far too big for them, a posh dress for 6-7 year olds is under way complete with French farthingale and a pair of bodies (slight cheating here too, because used cable ties for the boning).

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I had a trip to London as well a couple of weeks ago and picked up some ideas which we might be able to use… visited the ‘Elizabeth I and her people’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which was brilliant. There were some flat caps there which were tiny, smaller than I expected, and loads of lovely pictures which I’ve seen several times in costume books. I also stayed for the late night opening entitled ‘Elizabethans undressed’ which was amazing; I took some photos but unfortunately they came out rubbish.

Monday 19 August

We had a slightly quieter day today than the previous two weeks, which was actually rather nice.

A new gown had its first outing today. The pattern, which was for a very tall 12 year old, or slim older person, was partially based on the Tudor Tailor’s Aldersey dress in the Tudor Child (well the puff sleeves were), the rest was adapted from the basic pattern using styles and techniques from our earlier dresses. After much deliberating it was decided to use a pale cream/beige/gold damask material for the areas on show of the kirtle rather than our originally intended blue damask. The gown was made with a small train but we added a bum roll to see if we could make the skirts a few inches shorter. The Elizabethan hood comes from the Tudor Tailor, but possibly turned out a little smaller than it should have done.

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We’ve only got one Monday costume day left, and Saturday 7 September – which it turns out isn’t Heritage Day as previously thought. It’s the following weekend, 14-15, when there’ll be a fifties weekend to celebrate the NT acquiring Trerice in 1953. There’ll be some staff and volunteers in 1950s clothes and several visitors have already enquired if they can come dressed up too!